How to deal with disappointment on A Level Results Day

A Level Results Day can be an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. As well as the relief that it's all over, you could either be feeling thrilled at the outcome or a sense of disappointment that things hadn’t quite worked out in the way you hoped - which could make the whole day seem quite overwhelming and confusing.

The good news is that these emotions are entirely normal - but it's important to acknowledge them for what they are. Here are our tips for how to deal with disappointment and turn any negative feelings into positive ones this results day.

The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust
Dr Andrew Reeves, Associate Professor in the Counselling Professions and Mental Health

How not to be disappointed with your exam results

"I’m so useless, I will never pass anything again." 

Is this going through your head this results day? If you didn't quite get the grades you were hoping for this Summer, it doesn't mean you have nothing to offer and everything will go badly in the future. 

Neutralise your thoughts

Try and pause and recognise how you are thinking about your disappointment. Try and neutralise your thoughts and take the negative energy away from it. This is a useful technique for life and will help you to move from ‘doom and gloom’ to a more level basis: “I’m disappointed but let’s see what is possible now”.

Finding yourself in Clearing can be a shock and you may feel disappointed to be in this situation. We all feel disappointed sometimes and can have varying ways of dealing with this.

Clearing is an opportunity

Try to think of Clearing as an opportunity, instead of focusing on what you might have lost. The unexpected has opened new doors and different choices for you that you had not considered before. In the future, you might look back and see the positives that came out of it that otherwise might not have been there.

Don't blame yourself

When something doesn't go right, it's easy to blame and criticise yourself. Suddenly everything can seem gloomy and we create a situation where ‘catastrophic’ thinking takes over - we get things out of proportion so they seem worse than they really are. If this happens to you, it's important to recognise it for what it is.

Six top tips for dealing with catastrophic thinking
  1. It's ok to say ‘stop’ to yourself, to try and interrupt negative thoughts
  2. Remember that catastrophic thoughts are typically irrational, i.e., they are not based on facts or your usual experience
  3. Think about alternative outcomes: a bit like re-writing your own story
  4. Identify what you like about yourself and your successes, and remind yourself of them regularly
  5. Acknowledge that sometimes unwanted things happen, but that doesn’t make you a bad person
  6. Practise self-care strategies: things you like doing, such as spending time with friends, exercising and eating well.

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What to do next

If you do find yourself in Clearing, don't panic. Here are some tips for finding and applying for a course without a frenzy:

  • Try to keep calm and remember that you aren't alone - over 60,000 students found their course in Clearing last year
  • Feel more prepared for your call to the hotline by writing down any questions you may have. If you have a number of ‘Clearing options’, keep a note as to who says what
  • Have someone with you when calling the Clearing hotline for moral support
  • Consider how important location is to you when looking for a university - your initial criteria may be more flexible than you first thought. It's common to change your mind on your subject area too!

Useful links for mental health support

If you'd like more information about mental health and self-care strategies, there are a number of useful places you can visit:

Call Clearing hotline

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